After decades of joy and millions of dollars in revenue, Marvel concludes the solid Uncanny X-Men series to re-open a new chapter in the lives of our favourite mutants.
But is the final issue any good?
Uncanny X-Men #544 Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (pencils, cover) Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsor (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters). $3.99
Gah! That cover!
As the series concludes, one thing is for certain: Gillen owns these X-Men. Not since Claremont have I seen someone have such a great voice for each character. I know I’ve said that before, but it rings true. I feel that these characters are completely safe under Gillen’s rule.
That being said, he doesn’t play with a lot of different voices in this issue. A discussion between Cyclops and Iceman runs through most of the book, while a major X-villain gives context to their discussions within his/her own telling. What Gillen does with UXM is allows the reader to see is how much Cyclops has matured since first starting as Xavier’s student. Concluding as a touching story, Gillen sets up the newest storyline coming out next month with Uncanny X-Men #1.
And then there’s Greg Land. Working with mostly males in the story, he does a pretty decent job without having sexually-posed people. However, you can see Iceman aged from a twenty-something-year-old to fifty in more than one panel. A major splash page representing Cyclops reflecting on past X-events is also sullied by a stiff Jean Grey which may be easily mistaken by many other Land X-heroines. Not to mention that he’s recycling himself with many characters. . .
My only real “beef” with the book – Land aside – is actually one character Gillen seems to throw under the bus: Beast. I don’t know why Beast is the jerk he is in this issue, but yup, he’s a jerk. I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning was for Beast to metaphorically throw mud in Cyclops’ face for, but Gillen made it happen.
For the final issue of my favourite comic series, it ends somberly – closing one chapter and forcing another one to open. It’s just a shame that Land is the one doing the art.
We’re one issue to go until Uncanny X-Men comes to a close. On October 19th, the mutants will split off into two factions and forever change the X-Universe.
Written by Kieron Gillen, a man who really has proved his writing and knowledge skills with the flagship title, will be bringing the series to the close with – gah, I hate to say it – Greg Land. Click on the images for a bigger view.
Although his splash page does come off as rather nostalgic and touching for me, I can’t stop staring at the atrocities Land’s committed. Firstly, how incredibly stiff is everyone? Kitty Pryde doesn’t even have hands. They’re pylons!
And let us not forget how ridiculously fake Jean’s breasts look. I know Emma’s are supposed to look fake, but even now, they seem more real than Jean’s.
What’s Juggernaut doing? What’s with Nimrods head?
I’m also 100% sure I’ve seen this Wolverine face before. . .
But what I AM excited for with this issue is the return of my all-time favourite Marvel villain:
Yes, it’s Mr. Sinister. He’s been “dead” since the Messiah Complex storyline. I can’t help but wonder what shenanigans he’ll get the X-Men into now.
Well, once again, the X-Men are about to make history!
I’ve been aware of Marvel artist, Greg Land, for quite a few years. He has a very particular style of drawing – especially when it comes to facial expressions and body positions. He is currently working on X-Men-related stories, but has worked on Ultimate Fantastic Four and the Ultimate Power mini-series. Land also has a long history working with DC books, such as Nightwing and Birds of Prey. He also had a long run with the CrossGen’s series, Sojourn. Needless to say, Land has a great amount of experience with his short-time being in the comic drawing business.
However, it does not take a rocket scientist to see Land’s work as questionable.
But let’s backtrack slightly for a little bit of comic book art history and law suits.
You may notice the likeliness of other celebrities in things, such as Arnold Swarchenegger in the newest rendition of Terminator: Salvation, or Carrie Fisher as a pez dispenser as Princess Leia. Needless to say, the celebrities do not have a problem with this because the movie studios and a few others own the rights to the likeliness of their characters. The celebrities “look” in those movies, for those specific franchises, are owned. It’s like Warner Brothers owning the rights to Batman movies. Fox cannot make a movie with even a hint of Batman in it because Warner Brothers own Batman and most things related to him. It sounds pretty standard and easy-peasy.
When looking at comics, it has been well-documented that artists have used other photographs, as well as celebrities, commercials, movies, and so on, as photo references. It has been done for decades in comic books. One book in particular dealt with a lawsuit, being Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #15, where the likeliness of Christian musician, Amy Grant was used on the cover. The lawsuit ended with “a US District Court seal[ing] an out-of-court settlement between Grant and Marvel in early 1991, with a consent decree that Marvel did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing.”
The question is, how far can this go? Enter: Greg Land.
I’ll start right off-the-bat, stating that I am not accusing Greg Land of anything. I am just simply providing material which has been found via the internet. What I would like to bring forward, is the accusatory remarks placed on Land about his work. He has been accused by folks on the internet for copying other artists’ work, as well as his own. He is also known for presumably taking a lot of images from pornography, which even you may believe with the images provided, such as the many orgasm-esque shots women give (ie. the one above). Why he would trace his own work, I can assume is for one of two things: First is with the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” argument, while the second is that he is lazy. You can read about the controversies with Land’s work here and here.
From a MyCup o’ Joe interview with Joe Quesada, he discusses Land’s work: “What’s happened with Greg is that it’s become a witch hunt and way too many people are having way too good a time hurting a tremendous artist’s reputation when he isn’t doing anything that is any different than any of us. Every line he draws now comes under scrutiny and in so many cases, people are ‘seeing’ things where are none.” Quesada also goes on to state: “I could go on and on about how many times Greg has bailed us out from some very bad deadline crunches.”
Comic critic Brian Cronin from Comic Book Resources, states about Land’s work on Uncanny X-Men #510: “People speak often about the ethical issues of someone copying a drawing directly from an image, and those concerns are likely fair enough, but when I think of Greg Land, my problems are not so much ethical ones, but the fact that his process results in terrible art and particularly terrible storytelling. When you only have a certain amount of poses to work with, you just can’t tell the story the correct way. And when the characters all look more or less the same (as they’re all based on the same small set of models/”actresses”), it just makes the book that much more incoherent.”
Needless to say, we have two well-established comic book people arguing two different points. One says what he does is okay, while the other suggests that he is blatantly copying other images and recycling older sketches.
I will leave you with these images pulled from many of his comics. I do not know all of the “authors” that made some of the GIF or JPEG images, but thank you. I did however, use some of the photos (most notably, the X-Men #500 ones) from an awesome blog named JimSmash. His blog is hilarious and well thought-out, so go there now! (Or after you finish reading this one). He also gave me great permission to use his photos. So thank you, Jim! He also referenced me to the 4th Letter.net blog, where they came up with an animated GIF image of the Uncanny X-Men #500 cover you’ll see below. As for the rest of the pictures, I found them through various Google searches leading to message boards. There are more photos like these too – I just have not uploaded them all.